Go Naked and Dance
The Soul, like the moon, is new, and always new again.
And I have seen the ocean continuously creating.
Since I scoured my mind and my body, I too, Lalla, am new, each moment new.
My teacher told me one thing, Live in the soul.
When that was so, I began to go naked, and dance.
This poem reminds us that the body and soul are in a constant state of renewal. I read an article recently about the human body’s capacity to rejuvenate itself that said “Although people may think of their body as a fairly permanent structure, most of it is in a state of constant flux as old cells are discarded and new ones generated in their place. Each kind of tissue has its own turnover time, depending in part on the workload endured by its cells.” For example:
- The cells lining the stomach last only 5 days
- Red blood cells last only 120 days
- The epidermis, or surface layer of the skin, is recycled every 2 weeks
- The liver has a turnover time of 300 to 500 days
- The entire human skeleton is replaced approximately every 10 years in adults
(For more amazing facts, check out the whole article here)
So now we know that we have a new body every day, but this capacity for rejuvenation happens in all aspects of our lives. As those who know me know, I am a runner. I have not run a race since my 3rd son was born almost 21 months ago, so to keep my mind fresh and new along with my body I set a goal to run the 5K coming up in my town in under 24 minutes. Racing is really a mental competition – when you’ve trained and your body is prepared and capable of maintaining a certain pace, the race becomes about the self-talk that keeps you going and motivated when things get challenging. The race was last Saturday and it was a humid morning, making breathing more challenging but I was inspired as I always am by my fellow racers and cheerleaders. My sister had committed to the race with me and we started off and kept our pace. As we neared the finish line, breathless and tired from running hard, my sister looked up and yelled “23:52 go, go, go!” - and we did. We crossed the finish line at 23:58 & 23:59 and it was exhilarating! I have been running and racing for 25 years and have never won a medal, but we placed 2nd and 3rd in our age group and it felt really good. When we set goals for ourselves that challenge both our bodies and minds we tap into our capacity for renewal, and our attitude more than our age determines our successes and failures. When we examine our habits and patterns and define the ways they have become stale and stagnant we become more active participants in the renewal of the mind.
This weekend was also Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate Shakti, the feminine, creative force of the Universe that brings everything into being. Shakti acts within us at the level of the energy-body or the soul. It’s not like Shakti acts and we are born and then that’s it, we’re on our own. The energy of Shakti is working continuously and constantly, every moment of every day, and when we awaken to this energy flowing within ourselves we tap into our own creative abilities. We recognize that in every moment we have the ability to renew ourselves. Shakti is the force that breathes us, so with every breath we have the capacity to be born anew, to make a choice to make a shift or change in the direction of the life we wish to live. When we recognize that this process of rejuvenation is going on all the time, we can choose to align ourselves with it and celebrate the potential renewal of our soul in every action we take, every choice we make. As Mellen-Thomas Benedictsaid “Humans are immortal beings who have been alive forever. Our bodies come from an unending stream of life....humans are part of a natural living system that recycles itself endlessly."
Off the Mat:
Examine the aspects of your life that feel stale and stagnant. In what ways can you bring renewal to old habits and patterns? It doesn’t necessarily mean giving them up – sometimes that is the right choice, but often we can make a small shift in our thinking or behavior that connects us to our souls' innate capacity for rejuvenation and awakening.
On the Mat:
We worked with deep twists this week, as twists are refreshing and renewing poses. On the physical level they massage and wring out the internal organs, flushing out toxins and allowing new blood and other vital fluids to rush in and revitalize organs and muscles. On a mental level, they turn us one way then the other, balancing the hemispheres of our brains and helping us to see the same pose from 2 different perspectives and directions. When we twist, the movement initiates from the back body on the opposite side that we are twisting to (so for example, if we are twisting to the right, the twist begins from the lower left back waistline). Our back bodies represent our connection to the Divine, or Shakti, so the pose itself originates from this deep energetic connection to our creative source and our ability to align with it. We worked towards Baddha Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, leading in with twisted lunges, parivrtta Trikonasana, twisted Eka Pada Rajakapotasana prep, and a sweet study of Vira I which brought us into a deeper relationship with our subtle energy body and the way we can use it to move our outer physical forms.
Open To Grace: Feel your inner body grow brighter as you expand it with your breath.
Feel your soul fill your body.
Let the in-dwelling presence of your soul fill your body with a feeling of renewal.
Breathe in and soften into the knowledge that the universe, in it’s constant process of renewal, is unfolding exactly as it is meant to.
Muscular Energy: Hug to the midline and the newness of your body in this moment.
Firm your muscles inwards all the way to your soul.
Hug from your skin to the muscle to the bone to the subtle energy body.
Twisting: As you exhale and turn, wring out the old, making space to revitalize yourself.
Twist from the level of your soul, the deepest part of yourself and your deepest desire for renewal.
Initiate your movement from the place where Shakti dwells, deep in the back body, connecting you to your souls capacity for creative renewal.
Organic Energy: Expand into new possibilities with confidence in your souls ability to continuously create anew.
Shed the clothing of your skin and feel your soul dance with the beauty of this moment, this pose.
Live in your soul and let it be reflected from the inside out in your pose.